sexta-feira, 23 de fevereiro de 2024

‘A life-changing experience’: Nissan Ready electrifies the next generation

 In a long-standing partnership with 100 Black Men of America, Nissan and INFINITI led three days of career-building workshops in Nashville

  • Nissan hosted 62 African American high school students from around the country for the annual Nissan Ready program Feb. 18-20
  • In partnership with 100 Black Men of America, Nissan Ready educates and inspires through interactive career-building workshops, dynamic presentations and camaraderie
  • Nissan has partnered with 100 Black Men of America, the nation's top African American-led mentoring organization, since 2014

It's 8 o'clock on a Monday morning, and the Nissan Training Center in Smyrna, Tennessee, is buzzing.

The whir of the latest automotive technology hums in the background, but on this February morning, the most palpable electricity reverberates from the auditorium, where a group of eager high school students anticipates a potentially life-changing day. 

Among a list of prominent speakers for the day is Victor TaylorOpens in a new tab., vice president of Nissan's Canton, Mississippi, Vehicle Assembly PlantOpens in a new tab., and the newest member of the 100 Black Men Jackson (Miss.) chapter. For Taylor, this day is personal.

"I grew up in a single parent household without male role models," said Taylor. "I didn't have much to strive for, and in business, there was a clear disproportion in African American leaders."

Victor Taylor chatting with three Nissan Ready participants in a conference room

Taylor, right, chats with Nissan Ready participants.

Held in partnership with 100 Black Men of AmericaOpens in a new tab. – America's top African American-led mentoring organization – Nissan Ready brings together young African American men for three days of career readiness experiences in Nashville, home of Nissan's North American headquarters. 

Nissan and INFINITI executives lead the program, conducting interactive presentations, career-building and networking workshops, and tours of Nissan facilities, while building genuine relationships with participating students.

"Opportunities like this really weren't available when I was growing up," said Taylor, who delivered a dynamic, interactive presentation about the future of electrification and Nissan Ambition 2030Opens in a new tab.. "Nissan Ready allows us to engage with today's youth and understand, 'How can we give back?'

"We still have a long way to go, but we're taking steps to get there."

Representing 100 Black Men chapters from Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Jackson (Miss.), Washington, D.C., and Middle Tennessee, the 62 high school students demonstrated a commitment to their studies and a desire to excel to earn their spot at the event.

Nissan arranged travel and a two-night stay in Music City, with stops at the Nissan Smyrna Vehicle Assembly PlantOpens in a new tab.Nissan Training CenterOpens in a new tab., the National Museum of African American Music, and Nashville's historic Woolworth's on 5th – the location of the first lunch counter sit-ins challenging segregation in the 1960s.

"Every detail of this experience was intentional," said Chandra VasserOpens in a new tab., vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) officer, Nissan Americas. "From a historic site recognizing our past to a Nissan facility focused on career development to a cultural gem celebrating black music and music makers, every stop was designed to educate and inspire these students."

In a conference room, Vasser stands in a purple suit amongst participants and mentors in black suits.

Vasser, middle, with program participants and mentors. The Nissan Americas DEI team, led by Vasser, hosted the three-day event.

The event theme was "Electrify Your Future," a nod to Nissan Ambition 2030Opens in a new tab. and to the future generation of leaders. To kick off the festivities, Eddie George – Heisman Trophy winner, former Tennessee Titan and current Tennessee State University football coach – shared how he navigated an earlier-than-anticipated exit from the NFL.

"I was forced to reinvent myself," George said. "I learned that consistency and dedication to your purpose is how you succeed."

George, stands on a lit stage speaking intently to a large room of participants.

Tennessee Titans legend Eddie George helped kick off the event.

Emceed by Emmy Award-winning WTVF journalist Levi Ismail, day two of Nissan Ready featured remarks from African American executives across the company, including Craig KeeysOpens in a new tab., group vice president, INFINITI Americas.

"It takes a lifetime to build a personal brand, but it can take an instant to destroy it," Keeys told attendees. "Branding is a strategic investment, and it's opportunities like this where you can really amplify your circle and your brand."

The final day focused on the future. Representatives from Tennessee State University, a historically Black college, discussed the college application process, and Nissan representatives shared information on the company's internship and co-op programs.

"Nissan is an inclusive company that truly values all voices. We want those voices to be heard and respected, and we know that those voices are critical for our future," explained Vasser.  "It's our hope that these young men are moved by this experience to apply for an internship or co-op with us down the road."

Vasser sitting at a table in a plaid suit with a mentor and participants in front of a buffet area.

Vasser, middle, shares a meal with program participants and mentors.

It's a message that resonated with two-time Nissan Ready participant Tajuan Hudson, 17, of the 100 Black Men Detroit chapter.

"I want to explore many fields in engineering, and Nissan seems like a great start," he said.

And while participants like Tre Walker, 18, of the 100 Black Men Middle Tennessee chapter, have other career aspirations – he'll be attending Western Kentucky University to pursue degrees in physical therapy and entrepreneurship – the lasting impression remains the same.

"My experience with 100 Black Men and Nissan Ready has been life-changing," Walker said. "We are the future."

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